Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The House of Hades

The House of Hades
by Rick Riordan
Hyperion, 2013
Audience:  Grades 5 to 8
Checked out from the Public Library
ISBN:  9781423146728
Publication Date:  October 8, 2013

When we last left our heroes at the end of The Mark of Athena, the demigods have rescued the Athena Parthenos, but Percy and Annabeth fall into Tartarus.  The only way for them to make it out alive is the find the Doors of Death at the exact same time as the other demigods find the Doors on the mortal side. But the other demigods (Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, Leo, Nico, and Coach Hedge) have their own problems in the form of monsters, minor gods, and general nastiness.  Percy and Annabeth are being chased by every demon and monster they have ever killed and sent to Tartarus, but they are befriended by one mighty Titan that Percy defeated, Bob, who might just be the greatest character in this book.  For fans of the Percy Jackson series or the other Heroes of Olympus books, this is a must read.  Be warned, you cannot bat out of order, these books must be read in order or else you will be hopelessly lost, much like Percy and Annabeth in Tartarus, but with less monsters.

This is the first time that I felt like a Rick Riordan book was more character driven than plot driven.  Don't get me wrong, the plot is still intense and heavy, but the characters are really becoming the focal point.  Let's work on each one separately--and there will be spoilers.

Jason is starting to question his Roman roots and has decided to take the Greek path instead.  That is a huge decision that it weighs on him, and the team since he can't always get a handle on his powers because of his own internal conflict.  Jason just proves that you can be more than you were born into.

Piper becomes more than just a pretty face.  Sure, she still uses her Charmspeak, but she learns to be clever, and starts to search for her inner Annabeth to guide her.  She also learns sword fighting and really becomes her own person.

Frank might have undergone the biggest transformation.  He goes from being a timid, lumbering, lovable loser of sorts to an absolute general.  The physical transformation is what everyone notices, but his confidence in leadership is the real story.  Puberty is rough, and sometimes it feels like it happens just that quickly that a kid is a shy boy one day and commanding man the next.

Hazel changed little to me.  She comes in more control of her powers and she's more sure of her relationship with her father, Pluto, but there are few marquee moments with her.

Leo went from playful joker with no one to care for to man on a mission to save his love.  His time with Calypso really made him into a better character.  He grew up, found someone to live for, and now has the same type of determination as the others to protect someone beside himself.  And he got over Hazel and can cut Frank some slack.

Nico-wow.  Poor kid.  Hazel as the daughter of Pluto seems to fit in, but Nico seems to really push people away.  The horrors that he has been through are incredible and to know that he was harboring a secret crush on Percy does explain some things.  He is so complex that I can only hope that we get a little more back story and he starts to find some peace.

Percy and Annabeth were just trying to survive and after nine books, how much more can they develop anyway.  They are definitely better as a team and they are the couple that will survive.  They will have their love story, even if the others don't.

And Bob, formerly Ipateus the evil Titan.  After Percy wiped his memory and made him Bob, he was shuttled off to Hades to work as a janitor, but he is kind to Percy because of Nico's friendship.  Even when he starts remembering his former life as a Titan, he chooses to remain Bob, friendly, kind, and loyal.  And he sacrifices himself for Percy and Annabeth knowing that he is so close to seeing the mortal world again.  I'll miss Bob.

And now the wait for the final Heroes of Olympus book begins!  It will likely be another year, and another 600 page book.  Then what will Rick Riordan do?  We'll just have to wait and see.

Happy Reading!

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